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Sparrow to the Rescue

When 11-year-old Chloe Staten was diagnosed with a rare form of childhood cancer, a classmate's mother referred her to the Southern Oregon Sparrow Clubs.

The program matched Chloe with Central Equipment Co. Inc. in Medford, and with Phoenix High School, where her brother, Hunter, is a student. Central Equipment made a pledge of $4,060, and it was up to Phoenix High School students to "earn" the funds through community service hours to help pay for Chloe's medical bills and other expenses related to her illness. Students also raised money outside the program and made individual donations, said Matt Sampson, Sparrow Clubs regional director.

"Whenever I go there (to Phoenix High School), everyone runs up and says, 'How are you doing?' " Chloe said. "They want a hug and say they have done stuff to raise money for me. I feel like everyone cares for me there."

By the time the school year was over the students had raised money for the majority of the nearly $9,000 in medical bills that wasn't covered by the family's health-insurance plans, said Chloe's mother, Ruth Goodrich.

"It was definitely a great help," Goodrich said.

Chloe is now cancer-free.

Students across Southern Oregon hold a flurry of fundraisers and businesses make monetary pledges benefiting the children adopted through the nonprofit Sparrow Clubs.

Last year, 19 children with a life-threatening illness or chronic, debilitating condition were adopted by sponsors in Southern Oregon, Sampson said.

Less common are the fundraisers for the umbrella organization that locates children with serious medical needs and matches them with sponsors and recruits new sponsors, said Maria Davidson, a board member for the regional program. The organization holds an annual breakfast and 10-kilometer run to raise money as well as occasional e-mail campaigns when funds are short, Sampson said.

On Friday, Medford resident M.J. McCoy will hold a Wigs & Wings fundraiser at 7:30 p.m. at the former Pedrojetti's Pelle Fina building, 115 W. Main St. in Medford.

The entry fee of a suggested $7 donation includes appetizers and desserts by local restaurants and a cash-only bar by Elements Tapas Bar & Lounge. McCoy, who organized the event after learning about the Sparrow Clubs when her workplace, Cielo Salon & Boutique, sponsored a child for Christmas, has designed a special glowing blue vodka cocktail for the event called the "Blue Halo."

"I am a single mother," McCoy said. "The idea of one of my children becoming ill is horrifying. It was really great to know there is an organization like this around here that will step in."

The benefit will include information about the Sparrows Clubs, a DJ, a photo presentation by McCoy and Jazzmin Li Photography and abstract art by Miles Frode. Attendees who wear a wig will receive a free raffle ticket worth $5.

All of the proceeds go to the Southern Oregon Sparrow Clubs, Davidson said.

The Southern Oregon chapter needs about $150,000 per year to operate and pay the equivalent of 1.5 employees, Sampson said.

The national Sparrow Clubs USA, based in Bend, has been in existence for about 14 years, arranging sponsors for children in need in an area that spans Roseburg to the California border and Klamath Falls to the Oregon Coast. Physicians, social workers, teachers and others in the community typically refer children with serious medical needs to the program. Once a family applies, a doctor attests to the child's illness.

In addition to helping families financially during medical crises, the program helps teach students the concept of compassion and social responsibility, Sampson said.

To donate, or for more information, visit sparrowclubs.org, call 621-1126 or e-mail matt@sparrowclubs.org.

Reach reporter Paris Achen at 776-4459 or pachen@mailtribune.com.

Chloe Staten, 11, of Medford, is fully recovered from a rare form of childhood cancer. The Southern Oregon Sparrow Clubs helped pay most of her family’s medical bills that weren’t covered by insurance. - Jim Craven